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The NFL Goes All In On Frictionless Fan Experiences

Libby Spicer Aug 11, 2022 11:00:00 AM
Venues are investing in reinventing the fan experience because they know they’re competing with a very comfortable couch and LED TVs.

The NFL preseason kicks off today, and many football fans may be pleasantly surprised to find their beloved stadiums have had an upgrade. From mobile tickets and dynamic wayfinding, to gourmet burgers and craft beer, to state-of-the-art videoboards and high-density Wi-Fi, venues are investing in reinventing the fan experience because they know they’re competing with a very comfortable couch and LED TVs. 

Recent reports support this as a key strategy, leveraging technology to make sure the magic of game day is front and center.

Tech That Matters to Fans

There’s a focus on fan experience that goes beyond clean facilities and convenient parking. A report conducted this summer in partnership with Info-Tech Research Group and the Association of Luxury Suite Directors, The Impact of Technology on Sports Entertainment Revenue and Fan Engagement, revealed that 72% of operators were planning on investing in new technology for their venue in the next 18 months. Venue apps, mobile ticketing platforms, and cashless and/or checkout-free experiences were noted as a top priority. We’ve seen the rise of frictionless shopping over the last two years in the NFL with leaders like Empower Field boasting nine locations in an effort to ensure fans don’t miss a minute of Broncos action. 

The study also found that the majority of attendees at sports events are families with children and Millennials, with Gen Z noticeably missing from the stands. Given that statistic, venues are focusing on using data to understand these groups to serve them better. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that using AI, machine learning, and deep learning services to better understand fans ranked high as a digital differentiator. 

Seventy-five percent of operators said they are prioritizing checkout-free in the next 18 months. As the leader in sports, Zippin has launched over 60 checkout-free stores. Our customers often report the benefits inherent in the ability to learn about their shopper’s experience. The information gleaned from Zippin-powered stores enables them to improve operations and increase sales based on our AI approach to checkout-free. 

No One Wants to Wait in Line

Another recent study by Oracle and research partner Untold Insights, “Stadium Without Borders: Stadium Technology and Trends in 2022 and Beyond,” revealed even more about fans. It found that 42% find waiting in long lines to make an order the most frustrating aspect of stadiums' food and beverage experience. 

Oracle Food and Beverage SVP and GM Simon de Montfort Walker said it best when stating, “While providing an immersive and seamless journey presents challenges to stadium operators, fans’ increased expectations have also created opportunity to bring innovation and digitalization into the traditional stadium sphere.”

It's clear that fans are having a say in what technologies are adopted by stadiums.  At Zippin we work with venue operators, CTOs, and innovation officers who move fast to integrate frictionless experiences into their spaces. This season, Nissan Stadium will open five new Zippin-powered stores giving Titans fans access to checkout-free shopping while also offering more SKUs with local options popular in Nashville. 

Checkout-free in the NFL

Football fans are known for their loyalty, attending games in droves, and convinced their cheering has an effect on the result itself. Competition for the loudest stadium in the NFL is steep with the Kansas City Chiefs defending the title for the last eight years. Will fans like this risk a beer run on fourth and one? No way. 

This is why we’re on a mission to deliver checkout-free far and wide. At NRG Stadium in Houston, Texans fans have two Zippin-powered Ice House Express locations that are quick and easy to get what they need. (as you can see here) We’ve saved shoppers 104,000 hours by eliminating checkout lines and have been delivering immediate benefits to venues for years. If you’re curious about what checkout-free can do for your business, reach out to learn more.

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